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A Quiet Flame

(Bernie Gunther #5)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  6,483 ratings  ·  466 reviews
Philip Kerr returns with his best-loved character, Bernie Gunther, in the fifth novel in what is now a series: a tight, twisting, compelling thriller that is firmly rooted in history.

A Quiet Flame opens in 1950. Falsely fingered a war criminal, Bernie Gunther has booked passage to Buenos Aires, lured, like the Nazis whose company he has always despised, by promises of a ne
Paperback, 407 pages
Published 2008 by Quercus
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Phil Nilson I wouldn't recommend it. Best to follow Bernie's career as it unfolds, from cop to private dick to hotel concierge and all points in between. As it ha…moreI wouldn't recommend it. Best to follow Bernie's career as it unfolds, from cop to private dick to hotel concierge and all points in between. As it happens, the books often travel through time, with Bernie remembering past events. Whatever you do, though, read 'em!(less)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  6,483 ratings  ·  466 reviews

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Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want you to know that this an excellent thriller, which is why you see 5 stars at the top, even though it probably merits only 4.5.

In my GR friend, Matt’s review of Operation Paperclip he notes: “…the Cold War started to change the definition of justice. Sentences were reduced. Nazis who’d been responsible for pain, suffering, and death, ended up serving less time behind bars than some non-violent drug offenders in U.S. prisons today. Many more former Nazis were never tried at all, because of
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: black-as-night
Book 5: Bernie Gunther Goes To Argentina (and meets the rich and infamous along the way)

So Bernie's fifth outing followed quickly on the heels of the very excellent return to form of The One from the Other and ended up being the worst of the lot (so far.) This was a direct sequel to the fourth book, the only time that elapsed was the journey across the Atlantic, with Bernie arriving in Buenos Aires alongside his bunk mate Nazi War Criminal Eichmann in the opening chapter. This time he is investi
Nov 11, 2016 rated it liked it
When I finished 'The One from the Other' (Bernie Günther #4), having also loved the original Berlin trilogy, I wondered if Philip Kerr could keep the extraordinary level of quality going. Sadly, the answer is no. 'A Quiet Flame' (Bernie Günther #5) is fine, just not up to the sky high levels of the previous two novels ('A German Requiem' and 'The One from the Other').

'A Quiet Flame' (Bernie Günther #5) feels as though it was written with less care and attention than the previous four books. The
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who love Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett
Recommended to Lawyer by: Goodreads Group Pulp Fiction Who introduced me to Bernie Gunther in the Berlin Noir Trilogy
A Quiet Flame: Memories Die Hard

 photo QuietFlame_zpsb7de4ebb.jpg

First Edition, Quercus, London, UK, 2008

"All Germans carry an image of Adolph Hitler inside them," I said. "Even ones like me, who hated Hitler and everything he stood for. This face with its tousled hair and postage-stamp mustache haunts us all now and forevermore and, like a quiet flame that can never be extinguished, burns itself into our souls. The Nazis used to talk of a thousand -year empire. But sometimes I think that because of what we did, the name
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this as a giveaway and I'm glad I did because how did Philip Kerr slip under my thriller radar?
Our protagonist here is a private detective by the name of Bernie Gunther, an ex-cop with a wise-cracking, sarcastic sense of humor. It took a little while but once I saw what his personality was like I got more into the book.
An old case from Berlin turns around and bites Bernie in the ass years later in Argentina. The story was interesting and well-written with believable twists and set at a goo
Brad Lyerla
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't read Bernie Gunther novels for any purpose other than to have fun. But A QUIET FLAME introduced me to a new subject, the persecution of Jews by the Peronist government of Argentina. It is a sobering subject, which remains controversial and incompletely documented to this day.

In A QUIET FLAME, Bernie has escaped to Argentina to avoid prosecution for his activities as an SS officer during the war. While in Argentina, he is drafted by the local authorities to investigate the disappearance
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a retired History teacher I can only wish that I had known about this amazing series of 'Berlin Noir' Bernie Gunther novels, whilst I was still in post, developing young minds, and opening them to the wonders of historical fiction that is both informative (historically accurate) and that really does illuminate the past in such convincing fashion.

" All Germans carry an image of Adolf Hitler inside them...... Even the ones like me who hated Hitler and all the things he stood for. That face, wi
A.K. Kulshreshth
I turned to Bernie Gunther after I had a bit of a disaster with another historical thriller, and once again I got what I expected -- an extremely sophisticated mix of noir and historical fiction, with a lot of social commentary and historical insight.

As in the other Gunther novels, there are parts that are a bit "over the top". For example, it's hard to imagine one rather close-contact scene between Bernie and a famous rock-star politician happening in a real-life private detective's life, even
Gabi Coatsworth
A book for our times, though it takes place in Argentina in 1950 and Germany, 1932-34. The pre-war environment of Berlin and Germany is painted in such a way as to make me realize how very much like the current US and UK situation it was. The description of the slow but insidious way that evil managed to permeate Germany, once renowned as a land of culture and freedom, reminded me of the slippery path we’re on now, and made me shudder. As usual, Kerr’s understanding of human frailty keeps one re ...more
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
This is the fifth Bernie Gunther novel. Bernie is an ex-Berlin police detective, ex-PI and ex-member of Himmler’s SS – the last reluctantly. (Bernie was given an offer he couldn’t refuse, but you’ll have to read the series for that story). He is also a very likeable protagonist, reminiscent of Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, even with his Nazi past. In the series the reader meets historical figures and the author chronicles historical events while Bernie solves crimes during these turbulent times.

Grant S
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having read three of Kerr's Bernie Gunther novels before I felt very confident I was going to enjoy 'A Quiet Flame'.
It lived up to expectations. Not quite as good as 'Prague Fatale' by the same author but I can't see that being topped.
This time the story is split between the hunt for a child killer in Berlin in 1932 and the search for a missing teen in Buenos Aires eighteen years later.
Gunther is hiding out in Argentina like a lot of his ex-SS colleagues and is roped into working for the secret
David Lowther
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What can I say that hasn't already been said about this superb series? Bernie is on top form in a tale split between 1932 Berlin and 1950 Buenos Aires. There's plenty of action and the usual heavy dose of sarcasm, cynicism and humour. (A good thing, given the darkness of the plot.)

David Lowther. Author of The Blue Pencil, Liberating Belsen, Two Families at War and The Summer of '39, all published by Sacristy Press.
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our guy Bernie takes a trip down to the post WWII Nazi haven, Argentina. Here, Bernie finds himself hired to find a mutilator of young Argentian girls.

A Quiet Flame is another great outing by Kerr. What I just never can get enough of is his accuracy and vivid descriptions of locales. It's as easy for him as it is for me to draw a stick figure. I guess, my one gripe, is Bernie's use of the word "Angel." I don't recall him using it so often. I get the context, but a little overboard.
Rowland Pasaribu
A Quiet Flame begins with Bernie Gunther -- familiar from the excellent Berlin Noir-trilogy, as well as The One from the Other -- arriving in Argentina in 1950, smuggled out (along with Adolf Eichmann) by the Nazi-resettlement service, ODESSA. His cover is that he is a doctor, but he spills the beans early on, admitting to Juan Perón (whom he meets shortly after his arrival) that he was, in fact, a cop and detective. His reputation precedes him, and he is immediately lured to work for the secret ...more
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Bernie Gunther
Another tale of Bernie Gunther and as it happens it seems I am reading the series backwards, which does not matter to much as the books can be read in any sequence and are easy to pick up and read as stand alone.

Bernie Gunther arrives in Argentina of the Perones after having escaped Europe with the help of ODESSA, the organisation aimed at helping Nazis escape Europe after the war. As always mr. Kerr does write about some episodes in and around the WWII that are interesting and not all that well
Donald Luther
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was a kid, I read a number of book series, as did, I suspect, a lot of pre-adolescents then. I read through the 'Tom Corbett, Space Cadet' series (no relation to aptly described Governor of my former home of Pennsylvania), which my brother seemed to enjoy much more than I did; and I went through 'Rick Brandt', as well. This one I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a kind of techno-mystery series of kids.

Now I'm almost through the Bernhard Gunther series (one title left) and I'm genuinely pleased
Nov 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: German-o-philes, lovers of film noir, crime fans
I hate to say it but Philip Kerr has lost his touch. His trilogy "Berlin Noir" stood out for it Raymond Chandler-esque prose. It was tough, hard boiled, and super interesting becaues of the peak behind the scenes setting of Nazi era Germany. But this latest one... I don't know what to say. Its as if he read this fascinating book on Nazis in Argentina and tried to put a mystery into it but really just wanted to tell us what he had researched. There was no tension, no snap, no cynical hard boiled ...more
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Philip Kerr doesn't make it easy on the reader. And more power to him for that! What I mean is, I'm reading them in the order of publishing, but from the last two I've read, and what I've seen elsewhere, he has a habit of jumping around with his character Bernie Gunther. During and after the war. So there isn't a chronological progression through the series, I mean.

Let's face it, if anyone can see the lighter side of escaping Nazis fleeing Europe along with Adolf Eichmann after defeat in World W
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this installment we find Bernie Gunther in Argentina in 1950 along with a host of Nazi war criminals and Argentinian secret police.

Philip Kerr again produces just the right mix of history, drama, humor, suspense and pathos in this novel, the sixth in the series.

I’ll admit my knowledge of Argentina’s history is mostly limited to what I’ve learned from Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice, Carlos Gardel, and Raul Prebisch and the structuralists, i.e., very limited and largely incorrect. While Kerr
Alan Mills
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime
At the end of WWII, many Nazi officials found refuge in Argentina. A Quiet Flame begins with Bernard Gunther--a detective (police and private) before the war, an SS officer during the war--leaving the boat with Eichmann and being spirited off to a "safe house." However, rather than being processed along with all of the other German refugees, Gunther is whisked off to a private meeting with Argentine President Peron, and his wife, Evita, who recruit him for a special investigation.

As Gunther purs
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2
Bernie Gunther former Berlin Police Commissar, ex-Murder detective, eyewitness to the worse of human nature in one of the worse periods in history. In this book it's after the war and he is in Argentina, it goes back and forth between two time periods Berlin 1932 and Argentina 1950. He's investigation a murder in one and a disappearance in the other. While the two cases are related I feel it's more a vehicle for the author's didactic exploration of the causes for the rise of fascism in both coun ...more
Neal Wilson
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some of the best historical mystery fiction out there. I understand one last book is expected from the late Mr. Kerr. I will certainly be adding it and his others to my reading list. Great characters, great descriptions in the first person narrative, the stories transport you back to some places you would not otherwise visit.
Judith Johnson
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I couldn't put this book down - and read it in a weekend, but I'm not sure how many more of these books I can take. They are very well-written, but so, so dark. Of course I wouldn't expect anything dealing with Nazi German history to be light, but it always takes me some time to get over reading a Bernie Gunther story. Not quite as merciless as Cormac McCarthy (beautiful writer but have had to stop reading him!), but even so. I still have two volumes of historian Richard Evans' magnificent trilo ...more
Mark Rabideau
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea that so many 'negative things' were exported from Nazi Germany into the Peron regime of Argentina. Very tragic. The tale was typical Philip Kerr, both interesting and disturbing. ...more
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bernie is Houdini. And femme fatales keep escaping from him with regularity. This was a very interesting story of escaped Nazis in Argentina. On to the next. Bernie and Philip Kerr are still alive and well in his novels.
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the best Bernie Gunther so far.........with some history of the Nazi's in Argentina to boot! ...more
As a 12-year-old, I was warned off the original 3 Bernie Gunther novels, 'Pale Criminal,' 'March Violets' and 'A German Requiem,' due to the kink and sexual violence. Obviously I devoured them and found them fantastic; they gave me the interest in totalitarian noir I retain today. I wasn't aware Philip Kerr had died earlier this year, and so read this book with sadness after picking it up in a second-hand shop for a quid. This is good, though not as good as the first instalments of the series (s ...more
Some books are never meant to be happy. Although in a Crime novel the outcome, most of the time, provides a solution to a crime, and brings a criminal to justice, but often it also leaves the reader with sadness. Either connected to a character, or to the general atmosphere created by the book. A QUIET FLAME by Phillip Kerr left me sad, and on both the counts of character and atmosphere. The book dealt with a theme which was dark from the very beginning. A case involving disappearance of missing ...more
This series is about Bernie Gunther, a cop in 1930s-40's Berlin who was never a Nazi, always doing what he could from the inside to thwart their efforts. This 5th book is set in Buenos Aires, in 1950, when Evita Peron and her husband gave safe haven, and new identities, to between 5,000 and 8,000 Nazi war criminals, including Goebbels, Himmler, and Mengele (the guy doing medical experiments at Auschwitz.

(In an earlier book, Bernie quit the force and has become a private investigator.)

From a Wal
Perhaps the weakest Bernie Gunther mystery to date. The flashback style felt especially forced, for some reason. A few good lines, but once again, the web that ensnares Bernie just seems far too convoluted. Maybe I'm just not subtle enough, but the long range goal seems so unlikely in hindsight that it bugs me.

In this one, Bernie has just got off the boat in Argentina, where he was bound at the end of the previous book. He meets the Perons, both Evita and Juan, gets involved in counter spying on
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Philip Kerr was a British author. He was best known for his Bernie Gunther series of 13 historical thrillers and a children's series, Children of the Lamp, under the name P.B. Kerr.

Librarian’s note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Other books in the series

Bernie Gunther (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • March Violets (Bernie Gunther, #1)
  • The Pale Criminal (Bernie Gunther, #2)
  • A German Requiem (Bernie Gunther, #3)
  • The One from the Other (Bernard Gunther, #4)
  • If The Dead Rise Not (Bernard Gunther, #6)
  • Field Gray (Bernard Gunther, #7)
  • Prague Fatale (Bernard Gunther, #8)
  • A Man Without Breath (Bernie Gunther #9)
  • The Lady from Zagreb (Bernard Gunther, #10)
  • The Other Side of Silence (Bernie Gunther, #11)

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